Jazz Aspen Snowmass will not host Labor Day Experience in 2020 due to coronavirus

A crowd takes in an evening show at the 2019 JAS Labor Day Experience.
LYNN GOLDSMITH/special to the aspen times

Jazz Aspen Snowmass has postponed its Labor Day Experience music festival to 2021 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the nonprofit announced Monday.

The annual pop music festival, which was expected to draw crowds of 10,000 daily spectators to Snowmass Town Park, September 4 through 6, was to be headlined by Stevie Nicks, Eric Church, Kings of Leon and Maren Morris.

All four artists have committed to play the 2021 festival. Tickets will remain on-sale for that event based on the new dates. 

The 2020 festival had been planned as the culmination of a summer-long 30th anniversary celebration for Jazz Aspen. With Colorado’s “Safer at Home” public health restrictions on gatherings expected to stay in place for the foreseeable future, the music festival could not go on as scheduled.

“This was not the 30th anniversary celebration we envisioned,” Jazz Aspen President Jim Horowitz said in the announcement. “But the health and safety of the JAS artists, staff and audiences dictated that we stand with our fellow arts organizations in Aspen and beyond in taking this action. We look forward to planning to celebrate our 30th season with the same great artists and more in 2021.”

The cancellation is the latest in a string of major events dropped from Aspen’s summer 2020 calendar including the Food & Wine Classic and Aspen Ideas Festival in June and the full in-person program of the Aspen Music Festival and School.

Jazz Aspen’s multi-venue June Experience festival also postponed and moved its entire lineup of artists to 2021. Its JAS Café series still has 11 concerts scheduled from July 9 to Aug. 16. The organization is exploring options to host those shows while observing public health mandates regarding crowd sizes and social distancing. An announcement on those performances is expected in the coming weeks. The JAS Academy, an all-scholarship program for jazz students hosted in collaboration with Frost School of Music, is also still scheduled to take place in late July and early August.

Jazz Aspen is offering Labor Day ticket-holders the option of transferring tickets to the 2021 Labor Day Experience as a “JAS30 Survive & Thrive” pass, or converting the value of their ticket into a tax-deductible donation to the nonprofit’s mission-driven programming.

They are also offering full refunds as an option. But Horowitz noted the necessity of ticket revenue for Jazz Aspen’s future and encouraged any ticketholders who are financially able to choose the “Survive & Thrive” pass to do so.

“If you love JAS and want to ensure we remain a permanent and vital player on the local arts/event scene and supporter of music education for years to come, please convert your 2020 passes into 2021 passes and join the ‘JAS Survive & Thrive’ pass movement,” Horowitz said Monday. “The planning and rescheduling of this event takes time and money with many new unknowns. Survive and Thrive passes are going to be a crucial bridge for us to that anticipated 30th season celebration we look forward to now more than ever.”

Along with tickets to 2021, Horowitz said the “Survive & Thrive” pass would include a yet-to-be determined acknowledgement gift from Jazz Aspen.

“It’s more than a slogan,” Horowitz said. “It’s one of the most important requests we have ever made of our friends. Plus, it’s the same great line-up you were already looking forward to, with more great bands to join the bill.“

All ticket buyers will receive an email this week with instructions on how to proceed.

Buyers of the early discounted “We Trust JAS” Passes purchased in November 2019 will automatically have their tickets transferred to the 2021 Experience unless they would like to donate them.

Horowitz and his team had been in talks with the Town of Snowmass Village and the Aspen Skiing Co. about moving the Labor Day Experience from Snowmass Town Park to Buttermilk Ski Area for 2021. Horowitz said the possible move remains undecided.

“What we have agreed to do is kick the tires and see what it is we want to do,” he said.

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